Sharing and teaching the faith – there is no greater good we can do for our children, or for one another for that matter. The gift of our faith is inclusive of God’s unique and special love for us in Jesus Christ and our willing response to God’s grace by living according to the teachings of Jesus as he gave them to us in his church.
Sharing and teaching the gift of faith, my dear brothers and sisters, is a joy and a challenge for all of us in the church. Jesus gave us the church so that we may be members of one family, caring for one another and recognizing our authentic kinship in the Body of Christ.
This work is accomplished in many ways. We see it in the teaching of parents and children: the family. We experience it most commonly in our parishes, particularly at Sunday Mass. We see it in institutions of Catholic education and religious instruction.
We understand the work of sharing and teaching the faith in our health care institutions, hospitals, nursing homes and care facilities. We expect the faith will be shared and taught through our care for the sick and underprivileged, for the homeless and the marginalized of society.
We expect that the faith will be shared and taught through programs that instruct and guide us in sacramental living, especially strengthening and supporting marriage and family life, social justice and peace.
We look to well-trained and spiritually strong priests, deacons, religious and lay men and women who are effective and authentic leaders among us in the ways of prayer and the celebration of the sacraments.
What a joy it is to be Catholic and to rightfully have so many legitimate and pertinent expectations from the church. A major part of that awareness, however, must come from our knowledge that the church does not exist in a vacuum. We all have a share in the communication of the faith by our baptism into Jesus Christ; and we each have some responsibility to help the church fulfill her mission to preach and live the Gospel of Jesus. Through prayer, authentic attention to the Gospel and the teachings of the church, and sacrificial giving, that mission is accomplished. We share in this activity.
The works and the expectations I offer as examples above are areas funded through your generous donations to the annual Catholic Stewardship Appeal. So many of the ministries of the archdiocese are kept afloat through your generosity to the CSA.
Folks, we’re facing the same kind of financial trouble that you are. We have balanced our budget, we have trimmed and saved in so many ways – while trying to maintain essential services – but we are facing a hardship due to the significant downturn in CSA donations this year. Current numbers show us facing a shortage of nearly $600,000. Please be assured, gifts to the 2009 CSA are not used for any sort of legal settlement or litigation costs. Rather, your generosity is used to fund precisely the things I have listed above – the basic services people expect from the church.
I have already invited the members of the Campanile Society – those who annually donate $1,000 or more to the CSA – to increase their contributions this year, if possible. I have sent letters and made personal phone calls to major contributors asking them to consider another gift to the Catholic Stewardship Appeal this year.
I now turn to you, brothers and sisters. I sure hope that you can find it in your hearts to make another – or even a first – contribution to the Catholic Stewardship Appeal.
More information about the CSA is available online at www.catholicappeal.org.
Information about companies providing matching gifts to the CSA and membership in the Campanile Society is also available on the Web site.
The CSA supports your parish in many unseen ways that are often taken for granted. The appeal funds ministries, training and support for parishes in prayer and worship, in education and formation, and in leadership and administration.
Folks, you and I all know that these economic times have created stress for all of us – for some more than others. Many people are taking advantage of special services provided by the church and funded through CSA.
In a crisis, we realize that if we all do a little, an awful lot can be accomplished together! So, each of us can do something. First, and most importantly, you can pray, asking the Holy Spirit to guide the church in southeastern Wisconsin. We surely need those prayers! Secondly, if you can, please write a check to the Catholic Stewardship Appeal. It would really help so much.
Thanks for your continued generosity and support. God be with you.